Severna Park High School sophomore Amelia Garland is preparing for the Miss Maryland Teen USA contest, scheduled for July 24-25 at Bethesda Marriott.
Amelia watched a pageant on television and was intrigued. Following a phone interview, she was informed that she is one of 75 to 100 contestants between the ages of ages 14 and 18.
Asked about her platform, Amelia promptly answered, "I want to encourage girls to be the best version of themselves and not be influenced by society. With teens, there is a lot of pressure to be the perfect person and have the perfect body."
Some of that influence comes from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms. "Social media can be negative, but it can also be positive," Amelia shared.
Confidence is essential, she stressed. Amelia explained that she is fortunate that her family has encouraged independence, responsibility and acceptance. "I haven't been affected by society's standards. I'm used to being myself."
Where did this young woman gain such self-assurance? "I've been onstage a lot," she said. At Severna Park Middle School, she performed in the ensemble for "James and the Giant Peach" and in "Once Upon a Mattress." She also emceed for a fall production at the middle school and she played the nanny in a Theater in the Park production of "Peter Pan."
A creative, Amelia enjoys photography in her spare time. As an equestrian, she especially enjoys taking photos of horses and nature.
She also likes arts and crafts, including sewing. She sews pillows, and she makes dog toys for her two chihuahuas – Lucy and Charlie. Her other hobbies include swimming and baking.
Amelia is seeking sponsorship for the contest. Her mother, Maria Garland, said Amelia will do well reaching out to local businesses for help because she has experience with Girl Scout Troop 10300. The scouts often have to contact local companies for help funding events, like a recent haunted house and several quarter auctions. That experience helped Amelia learn cold calling skills and helped polish her communication abilities.
Maria said she's pleased that the contest organizers promote the importance of girls having a healthy self-image. "There are no height or weight requirements. They want girls to feel positive about themselves," she explained.
Amelia has taken initiative from the beginning, finding the contest, registering and going through the interview process, Maria said. She and her husband, Michael, are proud of their daughter.
"The most important thing is that she has fun doing it," Maria said. "She loves wearing a dress. One of the most fun things so far has been buying the evening gown."
There are three areas for the teen competition: an interview session, evening, and activewear.
Judges will evaluate contestants on character, poise, confidence and personality.
For information about sponsorship, visit this GoFundMe page.